Are you ready for marriage? It’s a question that most couples in a loving relationship will face at some stage. Are we ready for marriage? Do you want to get married? Is there a point to marriage anyway?
As this blog’s main mission is to help people be romantic, especially with their marriage proposals, it seems only right to ensure that we cover this vital question in depth to ensure all people we help on their way to a proposal are doing so with someone they are definitely ready to marry. As such this post marks the first of many interviews with successful marriage bloggers to find out how they were able to answer this very question.
Today I have the privilege to bring you the interview I recently conducted with the lovely Patty Newbold of AssumeLove.com, a marriage blogger par excellence. Patty shares her story of falling in love and marrying twice in her life following the tragic loss of her first husband, Rod, through illness.
How You Know You’re Ready For Marriage
How did you know Rod was the one for you? Do you remember the moment or the period of time when it dawned on you that he was THE one? Can you tell us about how that made you feel?
At MIT, there were 15 male students per female student. I had a lot of dates. In my sophomore year, I was living in Boston with a roommate. Someone from our old dorm had left some record albums at our place. We did not recognize the name on them, so I took them with me to the dorm one evening and asked around for the owner. It was Rod. He invited me in, and we began talking. It was eight hours later and a new day when we ran out of topics and energy.
I knew within the first hour that he was the one. And what I felt was comfortable, extremely comfortable. Attracted, yes, but I had felt that many times. Now I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be. Even though I was quite sure this was it, I knew I needed to see him in other situations, especially trying ones, before I acted on my hunch.
How early on in the relationship did you have a sense Rod was the one? Were there any complications to overcome (finishing studying/travelling/working away/past relationship issues, etc)?
We were inseparable from that night forward, except for a couple months over the summer when we could not manage to make the money we needed for school in the same city. He was one semester ahead of me because he had missed a semester due to illness, so after that summer I loaded up on courses to graduate a semester early. I did not want a semester apart.
And as you know I love covering marriage proposals so please tell me how Rod carried it off? And how did it make you feel when Rod did it? Were you shocked, amazed, bowled over or did you have a feeling it was coming?
Rod never proposed. We were sitting on swings at the park maybe three months after we met. We had never discussed marriage, but we found ourselves brainstorming fun ways to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Neither of us could ever recall who asked when it would be, but we picked a date for it right then and began planning the wedding. We married eleven months after that conversation.
How did you know Ed was the one for you? Do you remember the moment or the period of time when it dawned on you that he was THE one? Can you tell us about how that made you feel?
I do remember the moment. It was our second time together. I was impressed by his courage and by his ability to be very present in the moment. We had a very easy time talking with each other, but we had a lot less in common than I had with Rod. I was ready to enjoy this and grow through it. I was doubly sure a day later, when we were eating dinner on the patio of a Greek restaurant. Filo dough layers kept blowing off our meals, making us laugh, and a loudspeaker was playing canned mandolin music when Ed said, “Darn! They’re playing our song, and we’ll never know its name.” He makes me laugh all the time. It was doubly wonderful that night, because I was still raw from watching a good friend die from cancer a few days earlier and the memorial service still lay ahead of me.
And as you know I love covering marriage proposals so please tell me how Ed carried it off? And how did it make you feel when Ed did it? Were you shocked, amazed, bowled over or did you have a feeling it was coming?
I was definitely not expecting it. Ed had made it clear he did not want to be married, even though he loved me and planned on spending the rest of his life with me. I had insisted on wills, power of attorney, living wells, insurance beneficiary status, etc. before agreeing to a life together. It was more than three years later when he proposed on the University of Pennsylvania campus after a delicious brunch. I was so unprepared that I bungled just about every part of the special day he had planned. He had grown tired, he said, of calling me his “Ummmmm…” Girlfriend conveyed too little. Lover conveyed too much. POSSLQ made folks younger than us Boomers raise a brow. Wife sounded a lot simpler. I laughed.
To me, the real proposal was the day, our fourth together I believe, when he looked at me and said, “I don’t like living so far apart. I want you closer, like right across the living room.” Then he took a step closer, wrapped his arms around me, and kissed me with a kiss that completely melted me and sealed the deal.
What was the most important lesson you learned about married life that you didn’t know before you were married? How would you advise couples thinking of marriage to prepare for this?
Foolish me, I never learned it while Rod was still alive, but it was crystal clear the day after he died. What I learned is that if you expect anything other than love from your spouse, you create resentment, and resentment corrodes marriages. It melts them away from right under you. It drops you into dark pits where you convince yourself the only way to stop the excruciating pain of not having the marriage you expected is to divorce, even though you are still married to someone you know is a good man and a good father, someone you fiercely wish could take you back in time to when you were so in love.
I had been aching for two years. In evidence of why we ought to divorce in our 14th year of marriage, I had recited my list of unmet needs the night to Rod the night before he died. The needs did not go away when I came home to find his dead body. His love did. When I acknowledged the only way my needs would be getting met now was if I met them, my vision cleared. I could see so many things he did for me, said to me, gave me, wanted for me. The marriage was over. The love stopped. And the expectations, the poisons that had kept me powerless to deal with what I needed and blind to the love being offered to me daily, were all mine.
I had believed it only fair that my much longer commute meant he should handle local errands that he claimed to be unable to do. I thought my much longer commute meant he should deal with my surly mood as I arrived home to the meal he had prepared. When he was gone, I got rid of the commute to be nearer our son’s school.
That’s when I discovered the commute was the screw-up behind another need, too. We both worked long days and hated hiring a babysitter for our son who got so little of our time. So we very seldom scheduled a date night and had drifted into being parents more than a couple. My new office was so close to the one where Rod had worked that we could have met for lunch, a walk in the park, or a museum visit several times every week.
And there were so many other needs I had believed only he could meet for me. I felt powerful when I took care of them. And I felt grief-stricken as I realized how little I had appreciated his salary from working despite his chronic illness, his publications, still inspiring other researchers in his field, his time reading Bulfinch’s Mythology to our son, his cooking, his lovingly selected and always delightful gifts, his willingness to explain very complicated ideas to me, his enthusiasm for learning new things together, and his quiet nature.
Sliding into marriage by becoming roommates before you know you will marry makes it so much easier to drown in resentment. Costs and chores should be split fairly with a roommate. And fairly is a judgment each of you must make, because roommates’ purpose is to reduce costs and work; they are replaceable by anyone willing to pay more or work harder. Spouses are not.
A spouse’s purpose is to love you, because we all crave love. Your fair share of the expenses and chores is whatever you would pay and do if you lived there alone. Everything your spouse does to reduce your costs and your work is a way to give you love and respect. Cherish it. Don’t treat it as anything owed to you. Accept the love and savor it.
This is why I insisted on knowing I had a permanent gig, well-secured with paperwork that would require the rest of the world to treat me as Ed’s partner even when he was unable to vouch for me. I could enter into our new life sure I had a life partner instead of a roommate. I could Expect Love and let Ed be who he was instead of who I expected and still get my needs met, sometimes by him, sometimes the same ways I got them met during my eleven years as a widow. And it has worked out very, very well.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with our readers Patty. It is much appreciated. I hope it proves helpful to you readers who are currently asking yourselves if you are ready for marriage. It’s such an important step that it’s essential to get right. Look out for more in this series of interviews with marriage bloggers every coming Thursday.